Gluten Free diets have become increasingly spoken about and therefore popular, however for some people it isn’t a choice to improve health but an inconvenience they have no control over thanks to conditions such as Coeliac Disease. For health reasons I had to explore the world of Gluten Free eating for a while and soon came to realise how wide the variety of free from products really is. Although I think it’s wonderful how many supermarkets have created ‘free from’ food ranges, I still can’t believe how expensive the items are but also soon discovered that not all the Gluten Free alternatives are as nice as each other. Over about a year I tried so many varieties of different products, trying to find the best GF version and thought it would be helpful to bring all my favourite finds to you in one place.
BREAD – Marks & Spencer ‘Made Without Wheat’ Brown Bloomer (6 large slices @ £3.00)
Decent Gluten Free bread was probably the hardest find for me. After trying loaves and rolls from every supermarket around, I finally tried the ‘made without wheat’ brown bloomer from M&S. This is a pricey choice but I find I only need one slice to make a sandwich and just cut it in half to create 2 smaller slices; and the same with toast, I only need one slice so it does last longer. This is the only GF bread I’ve been able to stomach, most of them are either dry, tasteless or both, however to me this tastes along the same lines as normal bread, just without that fresh bread smell. This bread also freezes and defrosts really well so you can avoid buying it and accidentally letting it go bad.
PASTA- Tesco Free From Fusilli Pasta (500g @ £1.20)
Finding a good pasta that I could eat was really important for me as it was such a staple in my diet. I have genuinely tried every supermarket own brand GF pasta and they’re all ok but Tesco is the one I found related most to normal pasta, the texture and taste is the closest to classic pasta I’ve had. All Gluten Free pasta drains off a strange milky coloured liquid once cooked but I also found this one did that the least, and as long as you rinse it well once drained then it doesn’t have that slimey feel. However, at over double the price of Tesco’s own brand regular fusilli pasta (500g @ £0.59) it is still expensive, cheaper than some competitors however.
CAKE- Sainsbury’s Free From Chocolate Brownies (4 slices/ 2 twin packs @ £2.00)
Sourcing tasty gluten free cake was actually one of the easier jobs, a lot of GF cake is extremely moist and often has strong flavour. These Free From brownies from Sainsbury’s are so moist and have such a deep chocolate taste, they don’t taste any different to a normal brownie. They come as 2 slices in individually wrapped plastic trays, 2 packs in each box, such as the classic Mr. Kipling cakes do, making them perfect for lunch boxes or an afternoon treat. At £2.00 they are more expensive than regular cakes but home baking GF brownies is easily done using Gluten Free flour (Dove’s Farm do a good one) or pre made free from brownie mixes (Tesco and Sainsburys both do lovely ones).
BISCUTS- Gluten Free Milk Chocolate Hobnobs, available at Tesco (8 biscuits @ £2.19)
Although I had no trouble finding nice cakes I could have, I can’t say the same for biscuits. I tried various supermarket own GF biscuits and specialist free from brands offerings and none of them were right; they had a strange after taste or odd texture that took away the enjoyment of having a biscuit as they didn’t taste great. I was so excited when I found Gluten Free milk chocolate Hobnobs, made by McVities like the originals. I loved hobnobs and was so pleased when the GF version tasted extremely similar and was pleasurable to eat unlike all the others. At £2.19 for 8 biscuits these were a real treat and not part of the weekly shop, as well as being slightly infuriating when a normal packet of chocolate hobnobs are typically around £1.50 in the same supermarket.
CHICKEN NUGGETS- Marks & Spencer ‘Made Without Wheat’ Chicken Chunks
Chicken nuggets are a real ‘go to’ quick tea for me and just a bit of a cheat food for when I want something to give me a ‘pick me up’. Not many places offer a fresh selection of ‘free from’ food however the range at M&S is amazing, they do 3 or 4 different ‘breaded’ chicken products and the ones I tried were really nice. I always favoured their breaded chicken items anyway (because of the high quality of the meat) when I wasn’t Gluten Free so was happy I could continue to get them from there when I was. I’ve tried their chicken chunks and goujons and they were both really nice, no different to the originals really. I am unsure of the individual prices but they are always on a ‘3 for £10’ deal as all the other meat/breaded chicken items are.
GRANOLA BARS- Nature’s Path Gluten Free Dark Chocolate Chip Granola Bars, available at Sainsbury’s (5 bars @ £3.00)
Cereal/granola bars are such an easy, quick breakfast or snack option and I really didn’t want to have to be without them when I couldn’t eat gluten. These granola bars from Nature’s Path are so full of taste yet somehow taste almost healthy?? Nature’s Path is an organic brand for those who sway towards that but they just use really lovely, quality ingredients and you can taste that. However, you can also tell the quality from the price, £3.00 for 5 bars is pricey but I used to just limit myself to one a day to make the box last me every work day as I could live without that sort of quick snack on a weekend. The brand also does a fruit and nut version of these bars if you want to be healthier than the chocolate ones. They’re truly one of those wonderful Gluten Free items that just don’t taste like they’re missing something or anything like that which you normally find with free from items.
CEREAL- Dove’s Farm Chocolate Stars (375g @ £3.15) / Nestle GF Rice Pops (550g @ £2.49)
Finding a nice Gluten Free cereal is really important as you want something easy to eat in a morning as a simple breakfast option. I found 2 cereals I alternated between, they’re both more expensive than standard cereals but by this point in the post I think we’ve all established that Gluten Free food is expensive. The Dove’s Farm chocolate stars are really nice, good flavour and texture; these would also be ideal for children. Nestle also do a range of ‘Go Free’ cereals and I tried the rice pops and they tasted like normal rice krispies to me, they also do cornflakes, coco pops etc.
READY MEALS- Marks & Spencer Macaroni Cheese
I am not a massive ready meal eater but occasionally there is a requirement to get one, be that for a quick tea or an easy lunch for work. As I mentioned before, the fresh selection of food in the M&S free from range is amazing. They do so many really tasty ready meals that are full of flavour and taste just like the classics. They do a lot of pasta meals including lasagne, chicken arrabiata and spaghetti carbonara, however my favourite is the macaroni cheese. As with the other M&S products, I am unsure of their prices as they’re not online but I think they’re similar to other ready meals from the shop. The quiche and pies from the range are nice as well.
I hope this post has helped anyone starting out on a Gluten Free journey, whatever the reason for it may be. I wish I’d read something along these lines to prevent me having to spend so much money on horrible free from food. If you’d like to see any GF recipe posts or something like a ‘Gluten Free Breakfast Ideas’ post then let me know because I’d love to do that.
Thank you as always,